Premiership Clubs Playing Friendlies in the U.S.
The American influence in the Premiership is continuing to escalate. Just today, for example, there are articles about the possible takeover of Manchester City by American investors (rumored to be AEG), and a piece about Robbie Fowler having talks with New England Revolution‘s coach Steve Nicol.
Then, of course, there are the Americans who regularly turn out for their English teams. Out of the 20 teams in the league, nine of them feature Americans. That’s an incredible 45%.
So where do we go from here?
For American players wishing to play in England, a lot of it depends on the current crop of talent in the Premiership and what impression they make. Looking at this past weekend’s action, just as an example, Oneywu gave away the free kick in the Newcastle against Wigan match (which led to the only goal of the match). Bocanegra made a mistake in the Fulham against Man United match (which led to Ryan Giggs scoring the equalizer), and DeMerit fouled Andrew Johnson in the box (which led to a penalty for Everton against Watford). American defenders can’t afford to make these costly mistakes week in and week out.
What attracts English managers to U.S. players is the raw talent and affordable price tag placed on their head. For American players, there’s the desire to play in the top league in the world and the increased salaries offered in the U.S. compared to the paltry sum provided by Major League Soccer.
Expect more English sides to travel to America this summer for pre-season matches. Aston Villa and Chelsea have already announced plans. Arsenal will most probably visit due to their ties with the Colorado Rapids.
Having English clubs visit the States for friendlies is a win-win-win for everyone, well almost. The fans love it because they can take advantage of the weak dollar and go on holiday to the States and watch their team play. The clubs love it because it’s an opportunity to expand their brand in the U.S., sell more merchandise and create more publicity. The players enjoy it because they get to practice at better facilities and get a nice suntan while playing in California instead of a friendly against Bognor Regis.
And, of course, the Americans love it. I must admit that the majority of American soccer fans have a much bigger appetite for English football than even most English fans. The fans in England have become disconnected and feeling disenfranchised from their teams. How many Brits do you think would wake up on 4:45am ET on a Saturday morning to watch Arsenal nil, Blackburn nil?
It’s difficult right now to determine which English clubs will be coming to America for pre-season friendlies. Liverpool and Manchester United are both doing tours of the Far East, so they may not have time to fit in some matches. If AEG is able to acquire Manchester City, the chances of the team from the eastern side of the city playing a tour in America will significantly increase. And then there’s always clubs like Fulham, Everton and Reading who would be welcomed with open arms in the States.
The only negatives I see about Premiership clubs coming to America on tour is (1) the intolerable heat, for both players and fans and (2) the toll that the travel places on players — which can have detrimental effects on the fitness of players as we saw with Chelsea after their tour of America last summer and their slow start to the season (losing in the Charity Shield, etc).
If you’re an American and you’re reading this, you may want to start saving your money now so you can afford to see many of the Premiership clubs flying over to America this summer.